A Blog Devoted to Encouraging Homeschooling Mothers

A Blog Devoted to Encouraging Homeschooling Mothers
The Burts in 2013

Monday, December 31, 2012


If you know me (that is, know me in real life versus the blogging world) then you probably know that I am none too fond of the self-help mentality. It's not that I have anything at all against people in need of help; I put myself at the top of the list of people I know who need help. But the notion that I can somehow fix myself ~ let alone fix anyone else! ~ is a complete misnomer.  It's a continual cycle of "work harder" followed by gut-wrenching disappointment. And there's a reason this is the cycle of's because we cannot fix ourselves! That's God's job, and He's exceptionally good at it.

Having said all that, I'd like to share about something that we moms do have the ability to change for the better. Our attitudes. I'll go so far as to say that I feel many homeschool mamas could benefit from an attitude adjustment (me included!). We're often so tired, over-worked, and spread thin that we succumb to a bad attitude without any conscious effort on our part. It doesn't have to be that way! And I don't mean to say something contrary to my stance on self-help...I really think this one idea I'm about to share can have a positive impact on a mom's attitude, and subsequently on the entire family, and it's actually not that hard.

So here's my big idea. What if we went to bed each night having made the conscious decision to wake up thankful and happy the next morning?

The ramifications of a happy mother on the family and the homeschool are incalculable. The happiness will spread and so will the thankful attitude. And a happy, thankful homeschool environment is really one of the greatest blessings a mom can receive.

So why not try it in the new year? Pray and ask the Lord to bless you with a happy demeanor and a heart full of thanks, and prepare to be amazed at how the Lord moves in your family. That's something I can be resolved about!

Happy 2013 and may you be abundantly blessed in every way all the year long!

Day 251 done :)

Jan L. Burt

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Real Life Real Miracles ~ by James L. Garlow & Keith Wall

The book Real Life Real Miracles (by James L. Garlow & Keith Wall) is an easy-to-read, fast-paced and enormously interesting book that kept me reading "just one more chapter" late into the night. Each person's story is shared with enough detail to keep the reader engaged, but not so much that it seems watered down. And the authors' have done a first-rate job of honing in on the main points of each miracle story while maintaining the individuality of those who experienced the miracles.

From finding a lost diamond to the crushing weight of a semi-truck, those raised from the dead to a woman who lived through a plane that came apart in the air, electrocution to deadly cancer, the miracles you will read about in Real Life Real Miracles point toward the love, mercy, compassion and awe-inspiring power of God. The same Jesus who walked the earth over 2000 years ago performing miracles to those in need still works in miraculous ways today. It's good to pause and remember that He really is the same yesterday, and today, and forever.

I really did enjoy this book, and I am certain I will re-read it in the future.

On my "Page Turner Scale" of 1 to 5, I gave this book a 5.

Read it and be reminded of the God who does the miraculous!

(Disclaimer ~ I received this book free of charge for review purposes from Bethany House. All opinions shared here are solely my own.)

Day 250 done :)

Jan L. Burt

Dreams and Visions ~ by Tom Doyle

I was very interested in what details this book might contain from the moment I opted to review it...and I was blessed, encouraged and humbled by what I discovered in it's 23 chapters. This book is one that all Christians should read; but in all honesty, I think Christians who live in America ought to put it on their "Annual Required Reading" list. Our attitude toward Muslims needs a little adjusting, and Dreams and Visions is just the book to provide said adjustments!

Easy to read, with only the most well-documented cases included, Dreams and Visions opens your door to the world of Islam and your heart to those living for Christ in a way that most of us can hardly imagine. While many in the western world plod along in our walk with the Lord Jesus, needing others to beg and plead and cajole and entertain us while we grumble-all-the-way, those who follow Christ in Cairo and Mecca often do so after one dream or vision or Jesus saying, "You are to follow Me." They don't hesitate to risk their lives by obeying His call, and they walk in faith a path that is life-threatening. It is amazing and encouraging to me that I will spend eternity with so many former Muslims, and I am blessed to be able to learn about a few of them by reading Tom Doyle's book.

Buy this book and read it - not just once, but as often as you need to be reminded of the great work God is doing in the world of Islam. We truly serve the One True God, and He is able to save those who are perishing.

On my "Page Turner Scale" of 1 to 5, I gave this book a 5.

Disclaimer ~ I received this book free of charge for review purposes from BookSneeze. All opinions shared here are solely my own. 

Day 249 done :)

Jan L. Burt

Thursday, December 6, 2012

What Are You Reading This December?

Okay, maybe I should rephrase that question! What are you reading this December BESIDES homeschool books?

Many of us celebrate Advent with our families during the month of December, and that often includes family reading. Are there any books you just have to read each year? Or does your book list vary? And do you only read as a family, or do you have something special that you read this month?

When my kids were younger, I found it hard to give myself "permission" to read a book in my spare time (whatever spare time is, haha!). I felt guilty if I wasn't reading the Bible or something homeschool related. Now I see the folly in that type of thinking. There are long, tough seasons of motherhood and often it's during those times that we refuse to allow ourselves a break. But there's nothing wrong with having a book on your nightstand...even if you only manage to read a page or two each week.

My kids are all growing up quickly (the youngest is 12) and those long days of toddler-hood are in the past. They are all readers, and they each have a few books they're juggling at any given time. It's much easier for me to have a book or two that I'm reading just because I want to. I only wish I had figured that out when my kids were young, rather than giving into a legalistic homeschool mentality that only allowed me to read the most pious of books. If it sounds silly, that's because it was a very silly way of thinking.

So, I'll ask you again - What are you reading this December other than homeschool books?

Read as a family ~ maybe The Hobbit or A Christmas Carol or even How the Grinch Stole Christmas.  And read for yourself too. I'd love to hear about the books you're reading this month, so feel free to leave me a comment!

Lord bless you this season of Advent & may you find His grace to be sufficient for all your daily needs!

Day 247 done :)

Jan L. Burt

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Still Lolo by Lauren Scruggs ~ Tyndale Book Review

The young woman who suffered terrible injuries when she unintentionally walked into the prop of a small aircraft tells her story, and that of her entire family, in the book Still Lolo (from Tyndale House Publishers). More than just the details about her accident and recovery, the book details the childhood of Lauren Scruggs, her close bond with twin sister Brittany, her relationship with her parents and her walk with the Lord. Short chapters each feature the "voice" of one family member, providing a broad picture of Lauren (known as Lolo).

I found this book to be a fast read, and I don't normally pick up books about events that have occurred so recently (silly habit I have of reading primarily "old" non-fiction and even "older" fiction) but when I saw Still Lolo available for review from Tyndale I decided to read the story behind the propeller accident. I have to say that I do appreciate the honesty and openness of all member of the Scruggs family; they certainly don't sugar-coat things, and in particular her parent's openly share about the difference Jesus has made in their marriage. But I kept wondering when Lauren would share more about Jesus and less about herself...and the more I read, the more I understood that she seems to still be struggling to allow Jesus full access to the throne in an "I-must-decrease-He-must-increase" kind of way. I really don't want to seem harsh; good grief, this young lady and her family have been through the kind of ordeal most of us could never dream of experiencing! But I found myself truly aching for Lauren in the sense that she does not quite seem to be "all in" with Jesus in the way her mom seems to be. She is so like many other American Christians - we want Jesus and we want the American dream, and sometimes we prefer the later.

If you want to read a story that is truly a miracle, then Still Lolo is a book you might want to read. You can read the first chapter HERE.

Disclaimer ~ I received this book free of charge for review purposes from Tyndale House Publishers. All opinions shared here are solely my own.

Day 246 done :)

Jan L. Burt

Monday, November 26, 2012

Ending November Well

November is the one month of the year when, perhaps more than any other, we pause to give conscious and audible thanks to God. And now that the actual event of Thanksgiving Day has come and gone, it's easy for many of us to cease in our giving of thanks. At least, until next November rolls around on the 2013 calendar.

I'd like to encourage you to continue to give thanks to the Lord our God on a daily, continual, and ongoing basis. He gives us every heartbeat ~ He gives us every moment we experience ~ He gives us His unending love ~ and He has given us His Son. It's really not much to give Him thanks in return.

Don't let the Christmas rush be the reason you end up thanking the Lord less and less each day. I'm sure that sounds pretty ridiculous when it's phrased like that...ya know, it's not Christmas that makes us irritable or stressed or over-worked. It's not the very season in which we ought to be most intentional about thanking God for the gift of His Son that would find us hurried and worried and un-thankful. Surely I haven't become one of those moms who becomes such an over-achieving, homeschooling maniac during the month of December that my ability to say the words "Thank you Lord" has, well, bit the big one?

The only way to not be that lady is to create a habit of giving continual thanks to God. It is actually a very easy habit to create - you just start thanking Him for things all throughout the day. Before you know it, you're not agitated by the long line at Target or the lack of a parking space that isn't 3/4 mile from the door. Nope, not you. You'll be thanking Him for the chance to spend time chatting with your toddler while waiting in that long line; gratefully praising Him for the ability to pray for a few extra minutes while walking from the rear of the parking lot. Your entire perspective will change, and you will find yourself thanking God all the time for all kinds of things.

So I want to end November well, by growing in my attitude of constant thankfulness. And I want every single person who reads my blog to know how enormously thankful I am for each one of you! From the very bottom of my heart, I want to say thanks for taking the time to read what a homeschool mom from Kansas has to say via the world wide web.

Lord bless you as you finish November well!

Day 245 done :)

Jan L. Burt

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Radical Question ~ A Radical Idea by David Platt

This little 110-page book by David Platt packs a big punch. I loved it right from the very first page. The author's heart for the suffering church, and his deep desire for the westernized church to live a radical life for the kingdom of God, shines through on every page. I whole heartedly agree with David's sentiment that the church in America is, well, a little soft.

To follow hard after Jesus, to truly be a disciple in this modern era...what does that look like? And are we missing it by an inch or by a mile?

The Radical Question, A Radical Idea is an easy read that answers the type of questions mentioned above. But while it may be an easy read, it's not at all easy to live out a radical life. Don't bother reading this book if you don't want to be challenged.

However if you have a desire for something more in your Christian walk, and you share David Platt's belief that we were meant for so much more than large church buildings and self-serving church programs, then I think this book is one you should read. Who knows what difference one person can make in this world, and who knows that God might not be calling you to a deeper walk and life of sacrifice for Him? I was challenged by this book and plan to re-read it on a regular basis.

To learn more about this book, click HERE.

To read an excerpt click HERE.

Disclaimer ~ I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Day 244 done :)

Jan L. Burt

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Schoolhouse Review ~ Vocal Coach Singer

Vocal Coach Singer is a 12-disc singing system for youth through adults. It was created by Chris and Carole Beatty, two amazing people who have been teaching singing for more than 40 years. They have established credibility and an excellent track record as vocal coaches, and that makes Vocal Coach a solid choice for anyone (particularly homeschoolers) who are looking for singing guidance.

Here is what I got ~

7 Training CDs:

  • Getting Started
  • Complete Breathing
  • Complete Warm-Up
  • Complete Tone
  • Complete Expanding Your Range
  • Complete Diction
  • Complete Performance

4 Workout CDs:

  • Daily Workout High Voice 1 & 2
  • Daily Workout Medium/Low Voice 1 & 2

Plus these great educational tools:

  • Guidebook – Full-size Instructional Guidebook to Ensure Success
  • Printable Lead Sheets – each exercise in our course, plus track lists
  • Personal Singer's Journal (Getting Started Journal &; Workout Journal) to Track Your Progress
  • Vocal Coach Song Evaluation – Evaluation form to enable you to make more intelligent song selections
Vocal Coach Singer is available on CD's for $119.99 or mp3 for $99.

I'm sure you're thinking,  "Wow, that's a lot!" and you're right! It's the equivalent of $2000 worth of personal vocal coaching time. It's pretty tremendous to have such a great resource created for private home use, and I have to say it is an excellent fit for the homeschool community. We aren't always able to drag all our kids to co-op classes, and in some places there just aren't any singing class available. We need an option  ~ and Vocal Coach Singer provides that option!

The first thing I noticed was the "Getting Started Journal". It says, "The written record of your vocal experiences will keep you on track. It will make your practices more systematic and productive. It will also help keep you from reinforcing bad habits and instead build the kind of techniques that will serve you well for a lifetime."  I decided I would take those words seriously and use them as a standard for evaluating my daughters' progress. The journal pages are a terrific resource and they WILL help your child make great improvements...provided you actually use them!

Vocal Coach allows you to explore music in the comfort of your own home in a way that really will bring results. If you want something that goes beyond the 3 R's to use in your daily lessons, give
Vocal Coach Singer a try. And keep in mind that the word "coach" in the title isn't just for the purpose of creating a catchy name - it really is coaching! (Take it from someone whose high school choir took first place in the state my sophomore year - this program is an excellent vocal coaching tool!)

The "Educational Tools" are all available in pdf format, which means you can print exactly the pages you need and only the pages you need. Most homeschool moms appreciate this option, and I am no exception. I love being able to print what I need and not one page more!

My first thought was that this would be a fun way for my girls to experience some vocal training, and I was exactly right. Slowly and steadily, improvement can be seen, in much the same way that long-term sustained practice with any instrument yields results. And if you think about it, your voice is an instrument you carry with you all the time. Music appreciation is a good fit with homeschooling, and Vocal Coach  is a great resource.

Visit their website at to order or to see what all they have to offer.

And to see what other Schoolhouse Review members have to say, click HERE.

Why not consider adding voice lessons to your family's homeschool? You may find you like it more than you thought you would!

(Disclaimer ~ I received this product free of charge for review purposes. All opinions contained here are solely my own.)

Day 243 done :)

Jan L. Burt 

Balance Your Time

It's easy for us homeschool moms to justify some extra time spent on "improving our homeschool". We can search for creative ideas on Pinterest, soak in a bubble bath while reading our favorite homeschool magazine cover to cover, or run off the the library to gather some books for upcoming studies. None of these is wrong, but spending too much time "improving" can be detrimental to our marriages and our children.

More than a well-prepared mom, our kids need us to simply be fully there as a mom. Husbands don't need a perfectly organized closet as much as they need a wife who loves and respects them. And those who are watching us as we live out this homeschool lifestyle (in particular those who may be wondering if homeschooling is an option for their family) need to see us enjoying the life we're living rather than always striving to "improve" our life...which sometimes is more about "escaping" from our commitments more than making improvements, if we are to be totally honest.

So this short and sweet blog post is to remind you to balance your time! Be a choosey mom ~ and not just when it comes to peanut butter! ~ and be aware of where your time is being spent. And if you really, really want to know how you're doing as a wife and mom, then take a deep breath, be brave, and - GULP!! - ask your spouse and children. Once they know you really want to know how they feel, they will tell you the flat out honest truth. And if it's a truth that reveals areas in need of change, be brave enough to make those changes.

This parenting thing is too important to put off until later. And your marriage is a life-long commitment that deserves your best day in and day out. Remember, you took wedding VOWS...not wedding Maybe-If-I-Feel-Like-Its.

Now, log off your computer, put down your smart phone, and go play a board game with your family. You might just be surprised how much improvement will suddenly show up in your life by simply putting a damper on the amount of time you spend working to make improvements!

Lord bless you!

Day 242 done :)

Jan L. Burt

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Schoolhouse Review - Growing Up Wild

Growing Up Wild is probably best described as a foreign missions curriculum, but it really is far more than that. Yes, it is the story of a homeschooling/missionary family who are raising their four boys in Papua, Indonesia. And yes, the Growing Up Wild episodes are enormously insightful as to what the day-to-day life of a missionary family is like. But they are also educational, covering a wide swath of subjects, and just plain entertaining. I could not have been more pleased with Growing Up Wild, and I am hopeful the Wild family will continue to create more episodes.

I received Volume 1 & Volume 4 from their set of 5 DVD's. Volume 1 contains the episodes Home Sweet Hut, Supply Trip, and Sun & Water. Volume 4 has the episodes Amazing World Around Us, Adventures in Culture, and Tribal Calling. Each episode is about 15 minutes long, so each DVD has about 45 minutes worth of video time. But each one also has a CD with an Activity Guide that has fun things you can do with your children to reinforce each episode's subject matter. Every episode focuses on some aspect of living in the jungle and remote tribal missions. And as I mentioned before, they really are very entertaining.

I really don't want to tell you what happens in each episode, because I'd rather you find out for this isn't a spoiler blog post at all. Instead I'm going to share how we have been using Growing Up Wild in our homeschool, and describe the benefits of this curriculum to our family.

We usually watched each episode together as a family, but there were a couple of times one of my girls needed to watch one on their own due to conflicting schedules (yes, I have teenagers and yes, even homeschooled teens have busy lives!).  Then we just ran with what we saw in the episode! For example, in Amazing World Around Us (Volume 4) the boys were seen handling large snakes, spiders and stick bugs. We took that as an opportunity to learn more about the interesting creatures in the episode. So I guess you could say we studied geography, zoology, biology, and improved research skills as a result of Growing Up Wild. When we viewed Supply Trip (Volume 1) I thought we could learn a little more about helicopters. After all, they truly are amazing machines that differ from other forms of aircraft. My husband knew what type of helicopter was flown in this episode, and he helped us understand differences from one helicopter to another.

Each episode ends by mentioning the additional activities you can do (these are explained in further detail on the accompanying CD). You can choose which ones you would like to do, and they are in pdf format so printing off pages is a breeze. This "bring it home" aspect of Growing Up Wild is one of the things I like best...but honestly, I like everything about Growing Up Wild! But the activities are a really nice addition to each episode and they're well thought out. We couldn't do all of them, but like every homeschool family, we just used the "pick and choose" method.

The narrator changes from one episode to another: one time it may be mom Wild, another time dad Wild, and sometimes the boys narrate too. It kind of makes you feel as if you are getting to know this family as friends, including their pets, and you end up endeared toward them. I am hopeful that they will be abundantly prayed for as a result of this curriculum, and that many people will take an interest in missions work.

Now, I do have four daughters, and the Wild family have four you can imagine we had some squeamish moments as the boys did all kinds of boy-type things that my girls would probably never dream of doing! But in all seriousness, I truly appreciate the way that these young men are growing up in a way that allows them to be "all boy". That isn't always welcomed in our society today, and in the average American suburb, we kind of squash the "boy" out of our sons at times. These boys are living the kind of life every little boys dreams of! My hat goes off to the Wild family! They truly are a wonderful group of people, and the way they love the Lord and serve the indigenous people of Papua is a beautiful thing to witness.

In closing, let me say that Growing Up Wild is a unique curriculum in that it's aim is to "make" future missionaries and to grow families in their knowledge of missions work. It really is terrific stuff, and I hope you will consider making Growing Up Wild a part of your family's homeschool.

You can visit their website at

To purchase any of their products, click HERE.

Each of the DVD's sells for $18.99. They are also available as a set for $80.99 (plus S&H) ~ that's a savings of 15%.

To read what other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew have written on their blogs, click HERE.

Disclaimer ~ I received this product free of charge for review purposes. All opinions shared here are solely my own.

Lord bless you today!

Day 241 done :)

Jan L. Burt

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Redemption by Bryan Clay (BookSneeze review)

The book Redemption (by Bryan Clay) was not at all what I expected. It was so much better than I'd hoped it would be! Sure, it's a great story about an inspirational athlete. But it's also the story of a young man who grew up to be a loving husband and a dedicated father. And that is what makes Redemption a great book in my opinion.

This book is very easy to read - you feel sort of like Bryan is having a friendly conversation with you. He's very real about his faults and surprisingly humble about his accomplishments. And as I mentioned earlier, his heart to be a good husband and father makes this book terrific. I think any young person who hopes to become a professional athlete should consider reading this book, because it provides a realistic and healthy attitude about the world of sports from a Christian perspective.

I hope people consider reading Redemption, because this book can impact the attitude of an entire generation of young believers ~ helping them to see that being a good spouse and parent is FAR more important than succeeding athletically.

Disclaimer ~ I received this book free of charge for review purposes from BookSneeze. All opinions shared here are my own. 

Day 240 done :)

Jan L. Burt

Melissa & Doug Terrific Twenty List and Giveaway

Ever heard of Melissa & Doug toys? They make super-awesome stuff that kids young and old love to play with. And right now they are having a super fantastic holiday special called "Melissa & Doug's Terrific Twenty". They are giving away a toy every day through November 26th. You really don't want to miss it - click on the link above or the image below to check it out!  Good luck :)

To see the super terrific toys they're giving away, click HERE!

And check out their Facebook page to enter on a daily basis HERE!

In addition to this super-awesome giveaway, you can win one of their super-awesome toys (the game Suspend) from me by leaving a comment (with a way to contact you if you're the winner!) on this post! The winner will be chosen on November 27th, so don't dawdle, leave a comment for you chance to win Suspend! Click HERE to learn more about his super-awesome game.

Good luck and be sure to keep Melissa & Doug in mind this Christmas - you're little ones will be glad you did!

Day 239 done :)

Jan L. Burt

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Jesus Pure & Simple by Wayne Cordeiro

I have read quite a few books - some for enjoyment, others out of necessity, and many for a review. Jesus Pure & Simple (by Wayne Cordeiro) falls into the latter category. It's the only category it fits in, actually, as I did not enjoy this book at all.

I tried - honest I tried!- but the author's theology and interpretation of God's Word just doesn't fit with my belief in Jesus, pure and simple!

It's twelve chapters that are meant to be a down-to-earth compilation of the real Christian life as it was originally meant to be. But it seemed to be more of a rambling book, not always flowing very well, and sometimes just plain confusing. I could not always determine the point the author was attempting to make; and at other parts of the book, I was unable to draw the conclusions he was drawing from Scripture ~for example, his odd idea that all of us are part of the "666" mentioned in Revelation - and his assertion that it's not the "222's or 333's" that we need to worry about, but those just beneath God (i.e. followers of Christ who are like the Pharisees) are the "666's" and they are the Antichrists...

So my final assessment of Jesus Pure & Simple is that it isn't the kind of book I would ever read outside of for a review. However, read some other reviews and make up your own mind. You may well get a lot out of this book.

Disclaimer ~ I received this book free of charge for review purposes from Bethany House.

Lord bless!

Day 238 done :)

Jan L. Burt

Schoolhouse Review ~ Journeys of Faithfulness by Sarah Clarkson

Last year I was blessed to review a wonderful book by Sarah Clarkson (Read for the Heart). This fall I am doubly blessed to have received another of Sarah's books for use in our family's homeschool. This is truly an inspired book, and Sarah's love for the Lord and desire for young ladies to grow in His grace can be found on every page.

Journeys of Faithfulness is a 232-page book for girls age 12 & up that shares about the lives of Mary, Martha, Esther, Ruth and Mary, mother of Jesus. Divided into four parts, with three chapters in each part, this book is a perfect fit for young ladies who are seeking to grow in their walk with the Lord. Each chapter contains a reading selection about one woman's life, a devotional, a Bible study, and a place to journal or take notes. I can see this being a valuable resource for any family raising daughters, and from the perspective of a homeschool mom, it was the perfect fit for daily Bible assignments.

Sarah takes the Bible and works to make it read more like a novel - which is very appealing to girls between the ages of 12 & 18. Of course, she had to add some details that aren't provided in the Bible text, but I found that Sarah did an excellent job of this! Of course, each family will need to decide for themselves how much "addition" to God's Word they are comfortable with...but I can say that Journeys of Faithfulness does not add any more detail than, say, the average devotional or Bible study.

I have four daughters, and for other reviews I have had more than one of them use the same product in order to complete a review. But this time around, I really felt the Lord leading me to have one of my daughter's (my 16-year-old) use this book for her daily Bible curriculum. From day one, her response was very, very positive. And she has said over and over again that she "loves" reading Journeys of Faithfulness. She was able to give me her honest opinion, un-influenced as it would have been if she had been "sharing" this book with her sisters. And since she is my middle-child, it's always good for her to do something all by herself that allows her to express her own opinion.  Here is what she had to say ~

          "I really like that Journeys of Faithfulness is not focused on the men of the Bible. Most curriculum I have completed were primarily about men. There's nothing wrong with that; it was just nice to have a book about women written for young women (since most Bible studies with a female focus are written for older women). This book gives a picture of what life was like for women during Bible times. And she adds a ton more detail than is found in the Bible - which I really, really love! It's a great book, and Sarah is a great writer. I was never bored reading it and it's very entertaining. I just love it!"

Each devotional segment reflects on the previous chapter's subject matter and relates it to modern day issues. The there are some questions to answer and Bible verses to study. It's very easy to use, and provides an excellent option for Bible lessons within the framework of the homeschool.

Journeys of Faithfulness can be purchased from Apologia Ministries for $13.00.

Be sure to check out the Apologia website to find out about the many resources they offer for homeschool families -

And you can read what other reviewers have to say HERE

Disclaimer ~ I received this product free of charge for review purposes. All opinions shared here are solely my own.

Lord bless you and your family as you travel this homeschool road together!

Day 237 done :)

Jan L. Burt

Do You Know Enough of the Word?

We all know that Jesus countered Satan's temptations by saying, "It is written..." and after three times, Satan left him alone until a more opportune time. But do we actually apply this when we find ourselves in discouraging, exhausting, or tempting circumstances? Don't answer that question until you actually think about it for a minute....

Defeating Satan by reminding him what God's Word says only works if we actually, well, remind him what God's Word says! Sometimes I wonder if we think we're reminding him (when we haven't actually quoted any of the Word). Other times I think we hope that the Lord will just send our enemy away, or that the devil will just leave us alone if we pout and maybe even whine a little bit. Well, let me tell you emphatically, that will not work! And if we don't spend much time in God's Word, thereby not knowing what it does (and does not!) say, we will end up getting whooped up on spiritually.

So how much of God's Word do you really, truly know? Do you know what areas Satan repeatedly and consistently uses to tempt you and beat you down? Have you memorized specific verses to combat those areas? Your enemy is very tactical in his dealings with you ~ and he isn't going to leave you alone just because you want him to. In order to be able to resist the devil so that he will flee from you, you have got to have a lot of God's Word in your weapons arsenal. And you need to be able to rightly apply the Word to your specific struggles and trials. Satan knows this, and he will work to keep you out of God's Word and will go to great lengths to prevent you from memorizing verses.

My challenge to you today is to find a verse or two (at the very minimum!) that you can quote when you are facing the number-one temptation or that really huge area of discouragement.  Try it out and see if it doesn't work (I promise you, it does!). When that sense of heaviness comes upon you, say "It is written..." followed by the verse(s) you've hidden in your heart and watch Satan flee.

For homeschooling mothers, this is a terrific lesson to teach your little ones. You will never, ever regret one moment of time spent memorizing from the Bible. But a failure to memorize God's Word is something you will likely regret for the rest of your days.

Lord bless you as you commit to learn God's Word and to appropriate it to your life!

Day 236 done :)

Jan L. Burt

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Schoolhouse Review ~ RECON

RECON is a high-school worldview curriculum written by Bill Perry, a homeschooling father of seven. Intended for students in the 11th and 12th grades, RECON aims at helping prepare students not only to survive but to thrive spiritually while at college. Having a son in college, three daughters in high school and one in middle school...well, let's just say I found myself pretty interested in what this curriculum had to offer!

The first thing I did when I received RECON was to read the author's letter. It stated that I will best understand the curriculum by first visiting their web site's "About" page. He suggests reading this information prior to teaching any lessons. Click HERE to go directly to that page.

Once I had a grasp of the overall intent of RECON, I was ready to dig into the materials. I received the Teacher's Manual along with one copy of the Student Workbook. Comprised of 72 worldview lessons in a 434 page book, the Teacher's Manual has a wealth of information. The Student Book is much smaller, weighing in at 166 pages. Both are spiral bound with covers that wear well.

Aimed at training Christian high school juniors and seniors in spiritual warfare, while also training them to reach out to international students they're likely to encounter on their college campus' in the future, RECON covers such topics as pantheism, materialism, Islam, cultural trends, evangelism, suffering in the world, our position in Christ, walking in the Spirit, and much, much more. Each lesson has a Teaching Objective and a Learning Objective. For example, in the lesson for Day 34, the Teaching Objective is to "explain God's perspective on and purpose for suffering, and reinforce a biblical worldview of time." The Learning Objective is that "students will learn how agreeing with God's perspective for suffering and purpose for suffering can redeem it." This lesson teaches on 1 John 3:1-2, Romans 8:18-21, touches on a book written by Edith Schaeffer, references 1 Peter 4:14 & 2 Corinthians 3:17-18, and uses a grid to explore suffering in the past, present, and future. Each lesson is very in-depth, and takes 30-45 minutes to complete. Some parents may feel comfortable handing their child both the Teacher's Guide and the Student Workbook and letting them plug away at the lessons, but I strongly suggest you be totally immersed in this curriculum with your child.  There is simply too much content covering too many serious topics to leave your student to figure it all out on their own. 

When my 18-year-old daughter and I did the lesson for Day 1, we both had mixed feelings. The content was very interesting and valuable for spiritual insight. But the method for learning the material wasn't our favorite. Fill-in-the-blanks while mom reads aloud just isn't her cup of tea. But as I stated previously, this isn't curriculum I wanted her completing on her own. So starting with Day 2, we adapted the lessons to suit our personal preferences and needs. As we progressed through RECON, I was very glad we were working together in this way. I found myself "tweaking" the lessons here and there. Bible study has always been a subject my children do each day for school, so you can imagine we've used a LOT of different curriculum over the last 15 years with our 5 kids. My husband I lead our church's youth group, and I headed up our church's children's ministry for 6 years prior to our move into youth ministry. So I *think* I have the qualifications to say that while this is a very solid curriculum, which has obviously had many hours of work and research poured into it, it is a whole lot for the average homeschool family to complete. Most curriculum guides are not written with consideration to all the grade levels and all the subjects that homeschool moms deal with each day ~ and we know that we have to make adjustments in order to get everything done. For RECON to actually be implemented in it's most beneficial manner, parents should feel free to make necessary adjustments. For us, that meant doing the lessons together, and sometimes combining lessons. And I "nixed" what didn't align with our belief system. (My own disclaimer here is that I am a very high-truth person, married to a man who was saved out of a cult - so the seriousness with which I take God's Word can be a little intense for some people. I made adjustments that may well be unnecessary for most other families.)

As a mom and a youth leader, I think I would like to say this curriculum being taught much earlier than 11th & 12th grade. According to research conducted by Ken Ham and Britt Beemer, intensive worldview training in the middle school years is vital at this stage in post-Christian America. I would love to see RECON develop workbooks for middle school children in addition to the workbook for high schoolers.

As someone who works with teens all the time in addition to homeschooling my own kids, I can say that what they need is MORE meat from God's Word; MORE challenges to grow in their faith and relationship with Jesus; MORE hard teachings from the spiritual leaders in their lives. Use RECON for this aim, digging into the Word yourself as parent and teacher, pray over your children with great earnestness - and you will be preparing them for life not only on a college campus, but beyond that season and into their post-college lives.

Visit their website to learn more or to purchase ~

RECON is available in print version through Lulu. $12.99 for the Student Workbook and $21.95 for the Teacher's Manual.

To read what other Crew members have to say about RECON, click HERE .

Lord bless you as you teach your children straight from God's Word!

Day 235 done :)

Jan L. Burt

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Schoolhouse Review ~ Activity Bags Science Experiments In a Bag (E-Books 1, 2 & 3)

Do your children love conducting science experiments? Do you need some "lab time" to meet your state's homeschool requirements? Do you, as the homeschooling mother, dislike the prep work involved in doing science experiments? If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, Activity Bags Science Experiments In a Bag could be just what you need!

I received a set of three e-books ( Book 1, Book 2, Book 3) from Activity Bags to use with my children in our family homeschool.  The experiments dealt cut a wide swath through the sciences, covering biology, general science, nature, chemistry, and the human body. I simply downloaded each e-book, opened it using Adobe Reader, and started "doing" science! Okay, there was a little more involved than that...but in all honesty, compared to many of the experiments we've done over the years it was almost as easy as 1, 2, 3!

All the experiments follow the scientific method ~ so your child will gain scientific understanding as they complete these experiments. Science is one subject many moms stress about, and having a resource that removes some of the stress can be very beneficial to the overall tone of the homeschool. The first thing I did was to read page 17 of Book 1 in order to learn how to assemble the bags. It's actually very simple. The "Assembly Instructions" were easy to follow ~ I started with a 1-gallon press-and-seal bag (you can use a 9x12 manila envelope). I just gathered the supplies and put them in the bag along with the lab sheets and a copy of the experiment's instructions, Experiment Log and answer sheet, placed a label on the front of the bag (which clearly details any dangers, choking hazards, etc), and set the bag aside for use when I assigned it. For example, the "Static Roller" bag (from Book 2) contained 2 empty soda cans, 2 balloons, and the paperwork. I made two copies of the Experiment Log, since I have two daughters using the Activity Bags. That was all I had to do! And grading is really easy using the answer sheet. It's a pretty fantastic way to teach the scientific method!

The experiments were easy to classify, so I didn't have any difficulty assigning credit to the correct science category because they've already taken care of that! If a particular experiment relates to biology or to chemistry, then it says so right in the e-book! I really, really appreciate that! I found it simple to give lab credit for completed experiments in keeping with my state's high school graduation requirements. Seriously, this is a nice feature. That alone is a huge selling point for me!!

So upon completion of the bag assembly, I choose which bags to assign to which daughter and viola! they were conducting fun, educational experiments. The recommended ages for Science Experiments In a Bag is preschool through elementary, but I found them easily adaptable for older students. By reading through the table of contents in our science books, I combined experiments with daily lessons. It only took a few minutes to plan ahead in this way, and as much as my kids love science experiments, it was well worth the extra time spent on planning.

At times I had my girls' do experiments together, and other times they worked alone. I wanted to try it both ways to see if I could recommend this to those homeschooling one child as well as those with multiple aged children. And I think it works well in either case! We are not currently involved in a co-op, but I did read about the Activity Bag Swaps and I think they would be fun and beneficial for all involved. Ready about these swaps and see if it might work for your homeschool group!

I was very pleased that my children learned while having fun with each experiment conducted. This has become my go-to product for science experiments! I especially love the log sheets! They are very thorough and give  great real-life examples of the scientific method.

To read what others love about Activity Bags product line, click HERE.

To make a purchase, visit

Each e-book sells for $15, or you can purchase all three for the special bundle price of $39.

Disclaimer ~ I received this product free of charge for review purposes. All opinions shared here are solely my own.

Lord bless you as homeschool for His glory!

Day 234 done :)

Jan L. Burt

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Liebster Award!

I received the sweetest email from my dear friend Michele thjs week. What a surprise to find she had nominated me for the Liebster Blog Award! The award itself was a great surprise, but the real blessing was that it came from Michele! (You need to check out her blog ~ Faith, Family and Fridays!)Thanks for thinking of me, sweet friend!!

What is the Liebster Blog award?
The Liebster Blog Award is given to up and coming bloggers who have not yet hit the 200 follower mark. The award is presented by a fellow blogger as a sort of pat on the back "you've got a great thing started" type of award. "liebster" is German for "favorite"

The rules-
1. List 11 facts about yourself.
2. Answer the 11 questions given to you.

3. Create 11 new questions for the bloggers you nominate for the award.

4. Choose 11 bloggers with 200 or less followers to nominate.

5. Go to each bloggers page and let them know about the award.
6. Thank the person who nominated you and link back to their blog.
11 Facts About Me...

Even after 15 years of homeschooling, I still find new things to love about living the homeschool life.
I have four daughters, and one son. (Good thing he is the oldest!)
I love to read, and own far too many books. In fact, reading is my only real hobby!
The behavior of the character Mattie Ross (from the book True Grit) makes perfect sense to me, and I could see myself doing things exactly the way she did...

I hate to dust. 

I love to cook (and occasionally bake) ~ maybe that makes up for the lack of dusting?

We own three Pugs - two fawns (Roly & Mimi) and one black (Jack). They are spoiled :)

My favorite work of fiction is The Four Feathers by A.E.W. Mason. (Don't be swayed by the movie - the book is something else altogether!)

I like coffee - a lot. So I drink it - a lot!

I love amusement parks. Good thing my husband and kids don't mind them either!

Without Jesus as my Lord and Savior, my life would be a total wash. 

My Answers to Michele's Questions...
What is your favorite flower?How did you meet your spouse? - We went to high school together.

What is your favorite post on your blog?
Probably my post "A Word to My Fellow People Pleasers", because it was shared from my heart about an issue that has plagued me for much of my life.

What brings you joy?
My time with the Lord, date nights with my husband, laughing with my daughters, and texts from my son (a sophomore a @ Wheaton College).

Beach or mountains?
The beach, for sure! Most of my family experiences extreme altitude sickness, so the mountains are a no-go for us!

Cats or dogs?
Dogs - we have 3 pugs! (Hubby and daughter have serious allergies to cats)

Who inspires you?
Peter, Jesus' disciple.

What's one completed item on your bucket list?
Visiting Animal Kingdom, Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, SeaWorld, Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure during one trip to Orlando. (Actually, I've done this a few times!)

Phone calls or letters?

If you had to wear the same outfit for a month, what would it be?
Jeans and a comfy t-shirt.

What's your favorite movie?
I don't know if I have a favorite movie, but every New Year's Eve we watch "What About Bob?" together as a family (disclaimer - we use a ClearPlay filter!)

Questions for the Blogs I've Nominated...

Can you share your favorite Bible verse?
What is your all-time favorite book?
How many siblings do you have?
What is your favorite comfort food? 
If you could go anywhere on vacation, where would you go?
What sports do your kids participate in?
What's the last book you read?
Ice-cream or frozen yogurt?
What's your favorite restaurant?
Do you park in the garage or in the driveway?
When is the last time you went to the drive-in movie theater?
Blogs I'm Nominating for the Liebster Award...
Debbie @ A Million Skies
 Nicole @ Schooling in the Sun 
Audra @ Audra Marie

 Thanks again to Michele for the nomination! And to the bloggers I've nominated, I'd like to say THANKS for blogs that encourage and bless! I appreciate you!

Day 233 done :)

Jan L. Burt

Monday, October 22, 2012

Schoolhouse Review ~ Eye Level Reading Rulers (Crossbow Education)

I knew what I hoped would happen when my daughter began using Reading Rulers (a very, very cool reading tool from Crossbow Education). But I knew I'd have to give this product a thorough working-over in order to know it was helping my daughter. So I worked it over...and I wasn't disappointed!

Crossbow Education's motto is "Reading Tools Anyone Can Grab" ~ and it's a fitting motto! I received their ten-pack of Eye Level Reading Rulers (assorted colors, currently costs $16.95) and my 12-year-old daughter started trying them out right away. She did a "test read" with all ten colors, and then began to narrow down the options based on which colors were most comfortable for her. She settled on celery because it made the text the most clear to her (I found pink worked best for me - so be sure to have your children try out all the colors to find their ideal match). To determine which one was ideal, she simply laid them side-by-side over the book she was reading and chose the clearest option. They actually provide a suggested order for arranging the colors during the testing phase!

Colors included in the 10-pack are:
Crossbow Education aims to help children and adults who have dyslexia and special needs, and they work to identify dyslexia tendencies and provide tools to help with daily tasks. Their Reading Rulers are actually used in 40% of UK schools. They hope to make more schools, parents and teachers in the US aware of the benefits of their product line.

The Reading Rulers are very simple to use. Just place one over the text and read. It works with either gloss or matte surfaces (magazines or books). Glare is reduced, focus is improved, and tracking while reading is much easier. There are two windows on each Eye Level Reading Ruler (which you can see in the image above). The narrow window isolates a single line of text, while the wider window is best suited for use when reading paragraphs.

I noticed an immediate difference in my daughter's reading! I often have her read aloud in order to gauge her progress (she has some mild dyslexia). The first thing I noticed was that she didn't lose her place, and the second thing I recognized was the increase in the speed of her reading. Mind you, this was instantaneous! Her enunciation and pronunciation skills improved, and she was inverting letters in small words less frequently. Best of all, she noticed the improvement and her confidence took off.

She uses her Reading Rulers daily, and she has switched back and forth from celery to grass depending on the lighting where she is reading. I have tested her reading without a Reading Ruler, just to see if I was convincing myself of something that wasn't real ~ but I can tell you, it's real! She is reading with more self-confidence than ever before and I am pleased as punch about that!

I should also note that the edges of the Reading Rulers are slightly tinted. While I'm no vision therapist, and I don't know why this makes a difference, I can simply tell you that it does. She typically uses the paragraph depth tracking side of the Reading Ruler as she does her school work. But I can see how the single line option would have been very useful when she was a beginning reader.

In my personal opinion, anyone with attentional difficulties, tracking problems, dyslexia, those in vision therapy, early readers, young or old (pretty much anyone at all!) can benefit from the resources available at Crossbow Education. These Reading Rulers really do reduce eye strain, and even though they are a bit over-sized for they type of book adults read (say the average novel), they can be trimmed down to a smaller size pretty easily. My only warning would be to treat them with care - they scratch and scuff pretty easily!

I hope you will seriously consider investing in Reading Rulers if you have a child who struggles with any type of reading or visual difficulty. They have been a real blessing to our family and I am excited to share this review with others in the hope they might too be blessed!

To see what my fellow Crew member have to say, click HERE.

Visit their website at

The package of ten Reading Rulers sells for $16.95.

Disclaimer ~ I received this product free of charge for review purposes. All opinions shared here are solely my own.

Lord bless you as you homeschool for His glory!

Day 232 done :)

Jan L. Burt